By Kiplat Kaptuya
Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) National Council Rift Valley Representative Martin Sembelo has called for affirmative action in teachers’ employment in ASAL areas and lamented over the shortage of teachers in the area.
Speaking to Education News, Sembelo said teacher shortage in the area has slowed down the education standards and that students are performing poorly as a result of it.
“The government should deploy more teachers to marginalized counties,” he stressed.
He called on the Ministry of Education to promote teachers who have gone for higher education.
Sembelo also urged school heads to avoid sending learners home for school fees as the move disrupts learning and lowers the education standards in the area.
“Parents are having problems paying school fees due to the hard economic times. Learners risk dropping out of school because their parents can’t pay school fees,” he said.
Sembelo, who is also West Pokot Executive Secretary, noted that due to drought, it’s impossible for parents from West Pokot to sell livestock and pay fees.
“Selling livestock at the moment has become hard yet we have to pay fees since some schools don’t allow students with fee balances of as low as Ksh 500 to stay in class,” he said.
He called on heads of learning institutions to have an understanding with parents on how best fees can be paid.
“Parents should be allowed to pay fees in installments throughout the year,” he said.
He decried the dangers students are exposed to when they are sent home for fees yet their fellows are studying.
“All our children must be accorded the same opportunity to continue with their studies and it is illegal for any principal or head teacher to send them home because of lack of school fees,” said Mr. Sembelo.
He called on teachers to work hard to complete the syllabus and help the learners polish on their weak areas so as to improve on their academic performance.
Ms Jackline Chelagat, a parent with three children in high school, said that sending students home for fees exposes them to many dangers like drug abuse, early pregnancies and early marriages.
She added that school heads should heed to the government’s directive against increasing school fees.
“School heads in the county should follow government school fees guidelines by not adding extra fees.” She said.